MAC Championship: Miami Of Ohio Shocks No. 24 Northern Illinois, 26-21

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Miami-Ohio 26, No. 24 Northern Illinois 21: 'Miami Football Is Proof You Are Stupid'

SB Nation’s own The Hustle Belt covers all thing MAC. So you can imagine they have some thoughts on Miami (OH)’s monumental upset of Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game Friday night.

The win truly was a spectacular one for the program for the simple reason that the Redhawks shouldn’t even have stood a chance.

For Miami OF OHIO, here’s why this win was so spectacular: because they were supposed to lose so abominably. They were playing a vastly better team on all facets. I really did believe — and feared, for the attention span of my brethren — that Northern Illinois was going to post 30 before halftime, but the act of shell-shocking went the other way. I’d have taken NIU -17 if I had gold coins to spare. I’d have probably taken NIU -27. I still can’t explain it. (Also inexplicable: why ESPN booth analyst Rod Gilmore thought injured sophomore quarterback Zac Dysert was a four-year starter.) Boucher won this game for them, and this is the same young man who almost spiked the ball on fourth down. Freshman mistakes almost cost them the game, but the long Thomas Merriweather run to start their offense set the tone.

It still feels like a lucky victory, because so many sure things blew up in coach Mike Haywood’s face during the game. And maybe it was. But whether fortune or fortutide was the driving force, that MAC Championship trophy will soon be locked in a displayable case in Oxford, Ohio.

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Miami-Ohio 26, No. 24 Northern Illinois 21: VIDEO Of Miami's Miracle 4th And 20 Reception On Game-Winning Drive

A crazy 4th-and-20 conversion led to Armand Robinson’s 33-yard touchdown catch with 33 seconds remaining, as the Miami- Ohio RedHawks snuck past the 24th-ranked Northern Illinois Huskies, 26-21, in the Mid-American Conference Championship game at Ford Field.

Trailing by one, 21-20, the RedHawks (9-4) took over at their own 48 with 2:48 left. Two incomplete passes and a sack set up a 4th-and-20. Austin Boucher’s pass hit off the hands of a Northern Illinois defender and fell into the hands of Miami-Ohio wide receiver Chris Givens for a 31-yard gain. Two plays later, Boucher received heavy pressure, but was able to hit a wide open Robinson over the middle, and Robinson sprinted into the end zone for the go- ahead score. The score stood at 26-21 after the two-point conversion failed.

The Huskies (10-3) got the ball to the RedHawks’ 32, but Chandler Harnish was tripped up as time expired to give Miami-Ohio its first MAC championship title since 2003.

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Miami-Ohio 26, No. 24 Northern Illinois 21: RedHawks Pull Off Miracle Comeback For MAC Championship Upset

It appears as though Miami of Ohio, winners of only one game a year ago, is back. On Friday night, the RedHawks overcame a number of mistakes to engineer a miraculous drive against Northern Illinois and win the MAC championship.

Miami quarterback Austin Boucher, who was a backup only weeks ago, completed 29 of 46 passes for 333 yards. However, it's unclear how much credit he deserves for his biggest pass of the game. Within the final two minutes, Miami was down, 21-20. After Boucher was sacked to give them a fourth-and-20 situation, Boucher's throw bounced off a Northern Illinois defender's hands, and Chris Givens was there to make the grab and secure the first down.

Boucher then connected with Armand Robinson, who had a monster night with 176 yards receiving, for the game-winning touchdown with 33 seconds left. Upon taking possession, Northern Illinois threatened to answer back with a score of their own in the final seconds, and after a string of quick completions, quarterback Chandler Harnish snapped the ball in Miami territory. With five seconds left, though, he was forced out of the pocket and didn't even get off the pass before taking the game-ending sack.

This is a huge achievement for the RedHawks, as well as coach Michael Haywood, who in two seasons has changed Miami from a 1-11 team into a conference champion.

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